LAS VEGAS — Folks will get to see for themselves when videos of Markelle Fultz shooting surface, but the 76ers’ message is that the first overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft is showing improvement.
Sixers coach and interim general manager Brett Brown even said that Fultz is “doing great” while spending the past five weeks working out with independent shooting coach Drew Hanlen in Los Angeles.
“I feel just so excited to see him play NBA basketball and show why he was the first player chosen in the NBA draft,” Brown said. “And I have tremendous optimism and confidence that he’s going to have a hell of a year next year.”
Hanlen has confirmed what sources have told the Inquirer, that Fultz had the “yips” and “completely forgot how to shoot.” Several sources continue to say that his problems are mental. So for the most part, he’s been doing “foundational-type” shooting drills.
However, Hanlen has said that they are ahead of the pace they had set for the workouts. And Brown said Fultz is in a good place mentally.
“He’s putting in work. That’s the first thing,” Brown said. “Then when I see him and I have other people see him, I have a gut feel that he feels good about himself. That he is confident. That he looks it when I’m with him. He feels and he looks confident.
“Then I start seeing the progression of his shot, and I start listening to him tell me about his shot. It confirms that he’s feeling good. I feel like the path to date has been money.”
Fultz was limited to a combined 17 regular-season and playoff games this past season. He played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right-shoulder injury. However, his shooting woes were mental, several sources said. After showing some improvement in his shot, Fultz returned in time for the final 10 games of the regular season.
He played 4 minutes, 21 seconds in the first half of Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat on April 19. However, T.J. McConnell took over the point-guard duties in the second half of what proved to be Fultz’s last playoff game. He also had played in the first two games of that series.